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Keep your cool, save your plants

Summer squash grows rapidly during hot weather. Harvest often.
Summer squash grows rapidly during hot weather. Harvest often. The Sacramento Bee file

How do gardeners beat the heat? We put a lot of sweat and effort into our green thumb efforts. We hate to see our plants – and us – wilt under rising summer temperatures.

When it comes to summer gardening, get an early start. Make the most of cool mornings. Do yardwork early in the day. Keep yourself hydrated; remember to drink plenty of water. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Avoid too much sun exposure.

Keep your plants hydrated, too. Water your garden early, preferably before 8 a.m., or very late, as in after dark. Mulch around plants to help conserve moisture, but don’t let the mulch mound around stems or trunks; that can lead to crown rot.

Watch plants in containers; they need more water. Don’t let them dry out completely before giving those plants a drink. Elevate containers off the ground to promote cooling.

▪ Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather; keep an eye on the zucchini.

▪  It’s not too late to get a few more veggies in the ground. Plant seeds for corn, beans, okra, parsnips, pumpkin, squash and watermelon. In the Sacramento area, the biggest Halloween pumpkins are traditionally planted the week of July Fourth. (That means now!) Remember: Those seedlings will need extra attention and moisture to make it through July’s heat.

▪ Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

▪ Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs now, then leave them alone as they start to set next year’s buds. Non-blooming hedges also can be trimmed.

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